The Delhi High Court has dismissed a petition seeking quashing of an FIR registered under the Passport Act but at the same time ordered release of the petitioner’s passport saying that ‘she is a frequent traveller to Germany.’
Dismissing the petition, Justice Kailash Gambhir said, “So far as the facts of the present case are concerned in which the State is yet to file a police report under Section 173 of Criminal Procedure Code the quashing of the FIR at this premature stage would amount to stifling and closing the prosecution.’’
“However, as the petitioner is a frequent traveller to Germany it is hereby directed to the trial court to release the passport subject to the condition that the petitioner shall furnish an undertaking before the court by way of an affidavit that she shall make herself available for the trial of the case in the event of the filing of a charge-sheet by the police against her and shall also furnish surety of the sum of Rs. 50,000 to the satisfaction of the concerned Magistrate,’’ Mr. Justice Gambhir said.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport police here had registered a case against the petitioner, Susie Rehmer, when on scrutiny the Immigration officials had found a page of her passport missing in June last year. She was then travelling to Germany.
However, she later got a new passport following an order by an Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate here subject to the condition that it would be deposited with the court.
The petitioner had sought quashing of the FIR arguing that merely missing of a page would not attract Section 12(1) (b) of the Passport Act as the case of the prosecution was not that any specific entries were manipulated or altered by the petitioner in the passport.
It was the mandate of Section 167 (5) of the Code of Criminal Procedure that the investigation in a summon case, triable by a Magistrate, must be completed within a period of six months, and if for any reason investigation in such a case did not get completed within the stipulated period then it was for the prosecution to approach the Magistrate to seek extension of time period which in the present case had not been done.
Counsel for the Delhi Government on the other hand submitted that Section 12(1)(b) of the Act was attracted in the present case as the first part of 12(1)(b) where the attribute of knowledge has been made essential would not extend to the second part of the section which would get attracted once the alteration or attempt to alter or cause to alter has been made by the passport holder without any lawful authority.
The Government counsel further submitted that under the Passport Act, passport has been made a property of the Central Government and the holder of it is personally responsible for its safe custody.
The counsel further submitted that in the present case one leaf of the passport of the petitioner which was attached with the other leaf of the passport was found missing by the office of the Immigration Department which in the normal course could not have been detached.